Now, let’s look more closely at the “Criminal Syndicalism” audio.

1. Social/Historical Context of Recording

N.B.: This information is presented as if the student were going through each item asynchronously, without any instructor assistance. Should this lesson be delivered synchronously, this section could also be turned into a mini-lecture.

What is happening around this time?

  • October 1, 1962: James Meredith became the first Black student to attend the University of Mississippi in 1962, desegregating the university and setting off a series of violent riots in protest.
  • 1964: List of Civil Rights Incidents in McComb, Mississippi
  • July 2, 1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed.
  • October 19, 1964: This audio was recorded after a series of protests led to the arrest of a group of black high school students and members of the Council of Federated Organizations (who we hear in the recording after their release).
  • August 6, 1965: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 went into effect.

What is criminal syndicalism?

According to John Beecher in our recording, it is a law created to arrest anyone “in the movement on just about any charge they want to and they, you know, give it a nice sounding name. They say “syndicalism.” Some of us [unclear] stumble over it [when we couldn’t?] pronounce the word. But it still basically means that anyone who tries to work for justice in our society is doing something against the law.” (circa 2:36)

Who is John Beecher?

John Beecher was a descendant of the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and was a poet, civil rights activist, and journalist.

What is the COFO?

The Council of Federated Organizations (COFO) was first formed in 1961 to support jailed Freedom Riders. In 1962, it reorganized to an umbrella organization to avoid inter-organizational conflict and facilitate funds and encourage grassroots activism towards voter education and registration in Mississippi. In the 1960s, COFO field workers (the majority of whom were college-age Mississippians) organized many voter registration projects–as our Beecher recording captures. For more information, see the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s Page on the COFO.

2. Relisten to the Lesson Clip and Note Observations

Jot down your observations about the recording. You might notice things like: pages rustling, angry voices, whispers, clipping, English speaking, etc. Consider:

  • What do you hear?
  • What do you notice about the people in the recording or the recording itself? How would you describe them/it?

After noting your initial observations, begin considering and jotting down observations regarding themes or topics in the content of the recording.

3. Consider Potential Annotation Routes

Now that you have generated a fair amount of observations about what’s occurring in the recording and features of the recording itself, you can begin to create annotations. While you will work in groups to add your annotations to a spreadsheet (and potentially upload them to AudiAnnotate), here you will first consider some initial annotation routes.

  1. Review your observations. Can you think of a few “categories” to sort these observations into?
  2. Extend your observations. Consider:
    • Where do you hear meaning in this audio?
    • What is challenging in this audio?
    • What would you highlight or transcribe in this audio?
  3. Refer back to the audio, and turn these observations into annotations. Noting the time stamp of when the topic or event occurs in the recording, turn your observation into an annotation! You may refer back to the example Beecher project here, though we would encourage you to make an attempt at annotation without its influence at first.
Time Annotation Layer
14:07 - 0:00 Clip Start Notes
15:37 - 0:00 Clip End Notes
15:50 - 0:00 Explicit Language Notes
16:07 - 0:00 Racial Slur Notes
16:30 - 0:00 Explicit Language Notes
16:39 - 0:00 Explicit Language Notes

2. Analysis and Potential Annotation Routes at Harry Ransom Center.

IIIF manifest: